On October 14, the Jesuits elected Father Arturo Sosa Abascal, S.J. as the 31st Superior General of the Society of Jesus. He is the Society’s first Latin American Superior General. Fr. Sosa was elected at the Jesuits’ 36th General Congregation in Rome, by 212 Jesuit electors—representing 17,000 Jesuits worldwide—who have gathered to discuss the mission, governance, and state of the order. The election came after four days of murmurationes, an old Jesuit tradition of one-on-one conversation regarding the virtues of possible candidates designed to prepare the congregation for the election of a new Superior General. Fr. Sosa follows Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, S.J., who announced his resignation in 2014 after leading the Society of Jesus since 2008.
Fr. Sosa, S.J. was born in Caracas, Venezuela on November 12, 1948. He joined the Society of Jesus in September 1966 and was ordained a priest in 1977. He holds two bachelor’s degrees, in philosophy and theology, and a doctorate in political science from the Universidad Central de Venezuela. He speaks Spanish, Italian, English, and understands French. Prior to his election as Superior General, Fr. Sosa held several positions within the Society. From 1996 to 2004, he served as Provincial Superior of the Society of Jesus in Venezuela and was the director of Centro Gumilla, a Jesuit center for research and social action in Venezuela. Prior to this, he led the social apostolate of the Jesuits in Venezuela. During the 35th General Congregation in 2008, Fr. Sosa was chosen Counselor General by then-Superior General, Fr. Nicolás. In 2014, he became the Delegate for the Interprovincial Roman Houses of the Society of Jesus in Rome. These include the Pontifical Gregorian University, the Pontifical Biblical Institute, the Pontifical Oriental Institute, the Vatican Observatory, and international Jesuit colleges in Rome, among others.
He has dedicated most of his life to research and academics, serving as a professor and member of the Council of the Andrés Bello Catholic University and Rector of the Catholic University of Táchira. Fr. Sosa has taught and researched extensively in the field of political science in several colleges and institutions. In 2004, he was a visiting professor at the Latin American Studies Center at Georgetown University, and he was a professor of Venezuelan political thought at the Catholic University of Táchira.
News of his election has been well-received among fellow Jesuits. Fr. Timothy P. Kesicki, president of the Jesuit conference of Canada and the United States, described Fr. Sosa as “a man of deep prayer.” He points out that “As someone from the New World, he brings the riches of the Latin American church and knows also the challenges [the Church faces there] …. Coming from Venezuela he has direct experience of some of the challenges we face in the United States, and is especially aware of the difficulties migrants from Latin America face.” Allan Fogarty, S.J., the president of the Gregorian University Foundation, remarks, “He is very friendly, very easy to talk to, and is sensitive, and has a deep concern for others. He is a true companion of Jesus.”